LAPORTE — A 21-year-old man charged with the death of his younger brother was granted the opportunity Friday to post just 10% of his $15,000 cash bond in order leave jail while his case proceeds.
LaPorte County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Alevizos granted the request by the defense during the initial hearing for Tyler Kiger, who is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter in the death of 15-year Michael Kiger.
A small group of family and supporters appeared for the hearing, which was carried out by video conferencing from the nearby jail.
Tyler Kiger did not show any obvious emotions while the charge was read and as he was informed he was facing up to six years in prison.
He was represented in court by defense attorney David Sirugo, and the next hearing was scheduled for Aug. 16.
Police said Tyler Kiger was upset his younger brother was vaping indoors when on the night of June 7 he struck Michael Kiger in the head and fractured his skull, leading to his death a few hours later.
"He complained of pain to this head," LaPorte County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Adam Hannon said during a Monday hearing. "He mentioned that he was having difficulty hearing out of one of his ears."
Hannon said while the boy was "very frantic, emotional" during the 911 call, his demeanor had changed by the time police and emergency medical officials arrived at the residence in rural LaPorte County that is the home of the boys' great-grandmother.
"His speech began to slow," the detective said. "He told the dispatcher that he just wanted to take a ... go to sleep. He was not yelling and screaming as he was earlier in the (911) phone call."
Hannon said emergency medical officials did not receive the permission needed from Michael Kiger's great-grandmother to further assess the boy or take him to the hospital. Michael Kiger was taken instead to a residence where his mother was staying in LaPorte, where he was found unresponsive four or five hours later on June 8.
After attempts to revive the boy at the residence and at the hospital proved unsuccessful, he was declared dead, the detective said.
An autopsy done at Franciscan Health Michigan City hospital revealed the boy suffered a fractured skull, which caused bleeding inside the brain, Hannon said.
The cause of death was declared "blunt force trauma to the head" and the manner of death was ruled a homicide, he said.
Tyler Kiger, who showed up to LaPorte Hospital where his brother was taken, told a police officer he punched his brother in the left side of his head once with his right, closed fist, Hannon said.
Michael Kiger's skull was fractured on the left side, Hannon said.
Ron Papke, who is the brothers' father, said in an emotional video posted Saturday on Facebook that Tyler Kiger did not intend to harm or kill Michael Kiger.
"The truth of this matter is that this was a case of two brothers that got into it — two brothers getting into it as two brothers would — only this time it didn't end well," he said.